Kupaoa At Kamehameha Ho‘olaule‘a

The Kamehameha Children’s Chorus performs at the school’s annual ho‘olaule‘a

When I interviewed Kellen and Lihau of Kupaoa last year, they were called Kellen Paik and Lihau Hannahs.

This time I spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Kellen Paik.

Yes, this music duo not only shares the stage, but also shared vows in August of last year.


The couple recently celebrated the release of their sophomore album, English Rose, following the success of their 2008 debut release Pili O Ke Ao, which was nominated for four Na Hoku Hanohano awards. They were honored with the award for Most Promising Artist of the Year and the Haku Mele Award.

“Kellen and I do music full time,” says Lihau, who has a bachelor’s in Hawaiian studies and marketing, a JD and MBA, and passed the Hawaii State Bar exam.

“We’ve been really busy. We just finished a couple of shows at Hawaii Theatre.”

Kellen earned a bachelor’s in Hawaiian language in 2003 and after a short hiatus from school, he returned for a master’s in Hawaiian language, which he completed in 2009.

Album No. 3 is on its way, and they anticipate a release sometime early next year.

“Right now we’re just arranging,” says Kellen, a Kapa’a High grad. “It takes a lot of time for me to arrange all the music, and then a lot of rehearsing before we even think of booking studio dates.”

The Kamehameha Children’s Chorus performs at the school’s annual ho’olaule’a

Lihau adds, “For this next album, we’re thinking of doing something a little different. So this time we’re going to take our time with it and work on it as we go along.”

Lihau and Kellen Paik of Kupaoa

For some, including myself, the idea of working, living and playing with your significant other sounds dreadful, but the Paiks agree that they are really lucky because it works for them.

“I think it’s probably harder for the other groups and their families because the life of a musician involves late nights and touring,” says Kellen.

“For us, when we’re busy, we’re busy together and we still see each other all the time,” adds Lihau. “And the commitment we have to each other on a personal level is the foundation of how our group works.”

The two laugh when I ask if they each have specific duties or roles within the group.

“The lines are always crossed,” says Lihau. “But in general, Kellen is much more musically gifted than I am and so he really puts a lot of time in arranging the music. I do a lot of the paperwork and numbers. As far as decisions go, as far as things like taking a gig, we make all those decisions together.”

The duo stays busy with gigs, including this past weekend at Kamehameha Schools 81st annual ho’olaule’a.

“This is our first year performing at ho’olaule’a and I’m really looking forward to it because, for me, I remember when I was in school and would see the bands performing,” Lihau says prior to the event. “It is kind of a milestone in my life to return to Kamehameha as a professional musician to share my music there.”

Lihau is a 1995 KS graduate.

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